I’ve always known wild garlic was delicious, but who knew nettles were so tasty? I’m trying to avoid going to the supermarket in the midst of this coronavirus lockdown and so am turning even more to the land, to see what is ready to eat in the garden. This is Northumberland, there is precious little ready in the veggie patch in early April, apart from some rocket and spinach planted in the autumn that is going to seed in the greenhouse, and rhubarb that is almost there but not quite.
The wild garlic is wonderful at the beginning of April, and I’m lucky that I don’t have to go further than my own garden to get some. You may well find some on your permitted walk; look for shady spots under trees. Nettles are a wonderful source of goodness, full of many nutrients, and the young tips can be harvested and used in cooking. They will sting you if picked without gloves, but once cooked, the sting disappears
I’ve used both in cooking this week, and thought I’d share six of my favourite recipes with you.
Blue Cheese, Nettle and Wild Garlic Scones
225g plain or spelt flour
3 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt, half tsp English mustard powder
50g cold butter
125g blue cheese (or any strong cheese)
2 tbsp washed & chopped wild garlic & nettle tops (chives work well too)
60ml cold milk
1 beaten egg
Scones are best handled as little as possible. I use a food processor, but mixing by hand is fine
Sift flour, baking powder, salt & mustard. Grate in butter, cheese, & mix with wild garlic and nettles. Mix in egg & milk with clawed hand, adjusting amount of liquid to give a soft, slighty sticky dough. (Scones are better on the wet side rather than dry).
Tip onto floured worktop and handling as little as possible, knead gently then press down into a flat shape about 3cm thick. Cut into shapes, top with a little cheese or egg & milk from the jug you used.
Bake at 220 deg (200 deg fan) Gas 7 for 12 minutes.
Serve with butter. Delicious with some wild garlic and nettle soup.
Tomato, Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup with Orzo.
I small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Knob butter or 1 tbsp olive oil
Wild garlic & nettle tops (I use a colander or large bowl full)
I pint stock (chicken or vegetable)
450g tin tomatoes or passata
2 handfuls orzo pasta or any small shaped pasta
Sauté chopped onion and celery in a little butter or olive oil for five mins on a low heat, then add stock, wild garlic and nettles. Cook for ten minutes, then blend with a food processor. Add the orzo and cook until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
If you don’t have tomatoes in the store cupboard, or haven’t been able to get any pasta, don’t worry. You can add chopped potato to give the soup some body, and a green soup with wild garlic and nettles is equally delicious.
Wild Garlic and Nettle Spanakopita
My friend in Greece says traditional Greek Spanakopita is made with lots of green leaves, wild fennel and sorrel as well as spinach. I found some red sorrel in the garden and used this with wild garlic and nettle tops, but spinach or chard leaves also work well.
We make our own soft cheese using homemade yoghurt. See the post I wrote in the old Bridge Cottage Way blog: Make you own Yoghurt and Soft Cheese
I pack puff pastry
I onion, chopped
Knob butter or I tbsp olive oil
I beaten egg
100g soft cheese
100g grated cheddar
Bowl full of leaves – eg wild garlic, nettle tops, spinach, wild fennel, chard
Nutmeg, salt and papper
Gently fry onion for five minutes with a knob of butter or tablespoon olive oil in large saucepan, place washed greens on top, stir, and put lid on to wilt the leaves. Turn a couple of times, then drain using a colander. Chop roughly using a pair of kitchen scissors and leave to drain.
Mix beaten egg, cheeses, salt and pepper and a grate of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in wilted and chopped leaves.
Roll out half a pack of puff pastry and line a greased tin (mine is a square, 20cm x 20cm but a round one if fine too). Place mixture in and roll out rest of puff pastry to top.
Make a small cross in the middle to let out the steam, and brush with beaten egg or milk.
Cook in a hot oven, about 220 deg (200deg fan) gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden.
Wild Garlic Pesto
This is so simple to make, and so tasty. It freezes very well to be used throughout the year. You can add nettles, and I’ve made rocket pesto successfully too.
This recipe uses pine nuts, but in these lockdown days, or if pine nuts are too pricey, use whatever you have to hand. Walnuts or cashew nuts are a great substitute.
Same with the cheese – parmesan is ideal, but I didn’t have any and am avoiding going to the shops for feat of Covid_19, so used come cheddar I had in the fridge.
Large bowl of wild garlic leaves, washed
Half pint olive oil
100g grated cheese
2 handfuls pine nuts, cashew or walnuts
Place everything in a blender and add olive oil until consistency of shop bought pesto. Simple, and oh, so tasty! Serve with pasta.
I hope you enjoy some of these recipes from the Bridge Cottage Way. I’ll leave you with a photo of the bridge that gives this blog its name, and my patch of wild garlic.
Remember to forage responsibly to protect wildlife. Avoid any areas that are frequented by dogs and wash foraged leaves carefully! During coronavirus lockdown do not drive to nature spots to forage.
You may also like to read : Wild Garlic, Food for Free
Stay safe everyone, keep in touch either here or using social media and keep out of the supermarkets as much as you can!